Inspecting, maintaining, or installing septic systems requires the right septic tools to keep customers’ home waste systems clean and in good working order. Septic tank service providers must also protect themselves from various health hazards, such as infectious diseases, dangerous gases, and electrical shock.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than one in five households in the U.S. depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. Homes with septic systems are typically located in suburban and rural areas with no hook-ups to a centralized public sewer system, although one-third of all new development includes septic or decentralized treatment systems.
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Prepare your septic tank technicians to do this dirty job right the first time, with these essential septic tank tools.
The Septic Tools List
First, a quick look at the list of 23 best tools for septic tank service providers. We flush out more information on each below, so you can dig into the details and see what your septic service still needs to succeed.
Flushable septic tank locator
Electronic septic tank locator
Plumbing cleanout snake
Soil probe rod
Steel probe rod
Septic tank probe rod
Septic Inspection Tools
Long wooden pole or sludge judge
Visual inspection of baffles, tees, and walls
Video inspection equipment
Septic Tank Cleaning Tools
Sewer jet, or high-velocity water jet
Septic tank risers
Septic Maintenance Products
Alarms and control panels
Vent pipe odor filters
Septic business software
Septic Tank Locator Tool
Typically buried underground and constructed from concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene, a septic tank serves as a holding tank or separation chamber for wastewater flushed down drain pipes. Solid matter sinks to the bottom and forms sludge, while fats, oils, and grease rise to the top as scum. The remaining liquid effluent flows out of the tank into a drain field.
Some visual clues can serve as a simple septic locator—such as snow melt, rectangular depressions in the soil, areas of less grass growth or lush growth, or pipes sticking out of the ground anywhere from 10 to 20 feet from the home. Septic tanks are usually located within 10 to 25 feet away from the house, and typically no closer than 3 feet away.
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If visual clues fail, it’s time to try using other septic tank locating equipment. For instance, explore ways on how to find a septic tank with a metal detector:
Metal septic tanks or metal septic tank covers can be found with a metal detector.
A concrete septic tank can be found by using a metal detector to locate its steel reinforcement bars.
Some septic tanks don’t have enough metal to detect, so you may need to run a plumbing cleanout snake down the sewer line. The cleanout snake stops once it reaches the septic tank, and you can use a metal detector to locate the end of the snake.
Other options used as a septic tank locator device include:
Flushable septic tank locator—flush an electronic septic tank locator down the toilet and track its signal with a receiver. Typically, you’ll locate the septic tank wherever the signal on the septic locator transmitter is strongest.
Ground-scanning radar, often used by companies to locate buried oil tanks, can also be used as a septic tank sensor. Just keep in mind, this service may cost customers more.
A note of caution: When using metal detectors or electronic septic tank locator tools, be aware of older properties with multiple buried wires and pipes that can produce false readings. Also, be careful to not use backhoes, wrecking bars, or jackhammers to excavate in areas where dangerous utility lines may be buried or in areas weakened by septic tank failure.
Septic Tank Probe
In general, septic contractors use a soil probe rod or ground probe rod to detect buried drain lines on a customer’s property.
Once a septic contractor determines where the sewer pipe exits the home, they typically insert a thin metal rod or steel probe rod into the ground 10 to 15 feet away from the foundation to find the drain lines. Then, they follow the lines to the buried septic tank. In some cases, they may use an electronic probe to locate the tank.
Just be careful when using a septic tank probe rod in soft or wet soil, as probing or digging over a failing septic tank can cause a fatal cave-in, or send effluent right to the surface and possibly release dangerous, toxic odors.
A septic probe can also be used for determining how to locate septic tank field lines. Find the tank’s end opposite the house, then follow the drain lines to the leach field. Signs of possible septic tank failure include: lush vegetation, soft spongy ground, a sewage odor, or effluence at the surface.
Septic Inspection Tools
Once located and accessed, a septic contractor measures the liquid levels in the tank before deploying any septic tank cleaning tools. You can measure the levels by inserting a long wooden pole into different areas of the tank. The amount of sludge and scum on the wooden pole when you pull it out indicates the level of cleaning needed. You can also buy a sludge judge (a long hollow plastic tube with a check valve in the bottom), which costs about $75.
A T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevents sludge and scum from leaving the tank and entering the drainfield. According to the EPA, if the bottom of the scum layer is within 6 inches of the bottom of the outlet, or if the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, the tank needs to be pumped. Household septic tanks usually need to be pumped every three to five years.
Septic tank inspection also involves checking the condition of the baffles and tees (prevent sewage back-flow into the inlet or outlet pipe), as well as any signs of cracks in the walls of the tank. Some companies may use video inspection equipment to thoroughly inspect the tank and other septic system components.
Septic Tank Cleaning Tools
Septic tank service providers use a pump truck with a high-capacity vacuum to remove waste from a septic tank. They also might use other septic tools, such as a sewer jet or high-velocity water jet to remove clogs or hard-to-reach areas of the tank.
Other septic tank tools used on the job include:
Muck-rake—a long, hoe-like tool used to break up scum and sludge during pumping.
Wayne ball—a spirally grooved, inflatable, semi-hard rubber ball used as a septic pipe cleaning tool with hydraulic jet action.
Wrecking bar—a long, steel bar typically used for opening septic tank covers.
Power rodding—high-tech version of the basic drain snake. It uses a flexible, thin metal cable that doesn't overstress delicate plumbing when threaded through pipes.
Septic tank risers—a pipe made of either plastic, fiberglass, or concrete that’s used to create a vertical portal to the septic tank at ground level. Contractors often suggest installing this septic equipment to provide easier access for their septic tank pumping tools.
Septic Maintenance Products
Alarms and control panels—control and monitor all functions of a septic system, including notifications for high water, air pump failure, or submersible pump failure.
Effluent filters—devices affixed to the outlets of a septic tank, used to reduce the volume of solids passing out of the tank and into the drain field.
Vent pipe odor filters—activated carbon vent stack filters used to block septic tank odors.
Septic Business Software
Septic service software pumps up your company’s daily business operations for better efficiency and superior customer service. Online scheduling, dispatching, along with mobile estimating and invoicing makes running your septic service business a much tidier process.
Additional ServiceTitan tools, such as Marketing Pro, Phones Pro and Pricebook Pro, also help septic companies grow more leads and boost net profits.
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ServiceTitan Septic Business Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive undefinedSeptic Business Software built specifically to help companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.